City officials have limited time to acquire 200 acres of land and secure City Council approval to pave the way for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV to open Detroit's first new assembly plant in nearly three decades.
The automaker confirmed plans Feb. 26 to revive a previously idled engine plant on the city's east side as part of a $4.5 billion investment in five Michigan plants. The actions would create about 6,500 new jobs in Metro Detroit, help solve capacity problems for Fiat Chrysler in North America and prepare for future production of electrified Jeep SUVs.
If Mayor Mike Duggan and his team deliver the land, a community benefits agreement and council approval, Fiat Chrysler would bring nearly 4,000 new jobs to the city to staff the vehicle assembly line. That would be a boon for Metro Detroit, positioning the city and the region to reap economic rewards from FCA's three-year realignment of its lineup around hot-selling Jeep SUVs and Ram trucks.
FCA's plans come as crosstown rival General Motors Co. is moving to idle in January its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant just four miles away, to potentially close three other facilities in the United States and one in Canada as part of a sweeping North American restructuring.
"FCA just became everyone’s darling," said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics at the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research. "GM had some tough decisions to make. These are the right decisions for these companies, and not all companies are going to be in the same part of the plan at the same time. There’s a lot of uncertainty in this environment right now, and each company is going to make a different pathway out of it."
FCA plans to invest $1.6 billion to convert the two plants that comprise the Mack Avenue Engine Complex on the city's east side---including long-idled Mack II---into an assembly plant to build the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, as well as new three-row and plug-in hybrid versions of the highly profitable SUV.